Last weekend we drove to the Alsace region in France and visited the area around Strassbourg, especially the Vosges Regional Nature Park in the south and north of this region. We visited the Caves of Han in Belgium, Strassbourg, Kintzheim, Munster, Gérardmer, Épinal and La Petite Pierre.
We left early morning on Wednesday 30 April and stopped on our way in Belgium in Han-sur-Lesse to visit the caves there (see other post of this visit). Then we drove on to Strassbourg where we arrived in the evening of Wednesday 30 April and checked into an Etap Hotel there. We had dinner at a small Italian restaurant near the hotel named Francesca on 23, Rue Tribunal, which was excellent!
The next day we tried to find a bakery for breakfast, but it was May 1st and everything was closed. Luckily a small boulangerie in the Gare du Strassbourg was open and I was able to buy my beloved Chausson au Pomme, which I am always looking forward to when we are in France.
That morning we drove on to the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park in the south of the Alsace and had a short stop in Kintzheim and then in Munster, which is famous for its storks. There were stork nests all over town. We asked at the visitor center where these birds feed, but in fact they are fed by humans in a field nearby.
We first had a short walk in the nice city park of Munster and then had lunch at a terrace in the sun viewing the storks flying around. There wasn’t much vegetarian on the menu except for a little Munster cheese pie, which unfortunately we didn’t like very much.
We drove on west from Munster and crossed the highest pass of the Vosges Mountains at 1139 meters (3737 feet) at Col de la Schlucht. Here we took a ski lift up a hill and an alpine slide down, which was a lot of fun.
We ended up in the touristy town of Gérardmer that evening and checked into Hotel Marmot.
The next morning we drove west on the D11 and came across the Grande Cascades du Tendon, a 32 meters (105 feet) waterfall. We hiked up the mountain to view the waterfall from the top, which was a really nice walk, but we had to turn back and couldn’t finish the loop due to rushing water over the path. The trail was quite rocky at some points:
In the afternoon we did most of La Route des Mille Etangs (route of a thousands lakes), which is a 60km signed road tour along many small lakes in the Ballons Nature Park. The route was a bit disappointing because almost each of the thousand lakes seemed to be privately owned with a big fence around it and “stay out” signs, and the road was quite narrow most of the time, so there were not many places where you could stop and look around. We bought bread and cheese at a supermarket before the route and it took 90 minutes (seriously) before we finally came across a picknic table.
In the late afternoon we headed north and stopped at the American Cemetery and Memorial near the town of Épinal, which is one of six US cemeteries for World War II in France.
That evening we ended up in the small town of La Petite Pierre and checked into the Hotel Aux Trois Roses.
That evening we walked around town to look for a restaurant and ended up at a small Alsacian restaurant named Le Puits Gourmand, which looked simple from the outside but the food was most excellent!
On Saturday morning we walked back to town and did the walking trail named Circuit du Baerenberg around La Petite Pierre, which took us about 2 hours to complete. We didn’t see many birds on this walk, but it was a really nice trail.
In the afternoon we drove around some more in the Northern Vosges Nature Park and made a couple of small walks, including around the lake of Donnenbach. Then we drove the 5 hours home back to Leiden.